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Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Olympic 7s: Eagles Blank Hosts Brazil


Rebounding from their disappointing loss to Argentina earlier in the day the U.S. defeated Brazil 26-0 to notch their first win at the Rio Olympics. Crucially it gives the U.S. the chance to control their own destiny to make the quarterfinals if they beat Fiji tomorrow. However, if they come up short against Fiji they are going to need help elsewhere and to keep it close against Fiji.

Even though they picked up the win over Brazil it wasn't the cleanest of performances from the Eagles. Like against Argentina many of their offloads ended in knock-ons rather tries and their penalty count was high once again. Those early errors allowed an energetic Brazilian team to have possession early, something the Eagles couldn't afford as they were looking to pad their point differential.

Eventually the try came as Folau Niua was justly rewarded for hard work. The U.S. did well to steal the line out and then when Ben Pinkelman, who had a nice game, fended off his defender it led to space opening up for Niua to race in for the score.

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Things moved in favor of the Eagles as Perry Baker did his best to keep possession with an extremely athletic win at the line out. Brazil were also shown a yellow card for delaying the game. With the advantage the U.S. worked the ball at wide and when Brazil went for the intercept and missed Nate Ebner was able to slide in for the score. At halftime the Eagles led 14-0.

In the second half the U.S. once again had the majority of the possession but it was small errors that continued to kill opportunities. For example, Wyles had made a nice break and came within meters of the line but he didn't have great support and when he tried a hopeful offload it was knocked on.

With a few minutes left Ebner was sent to the bin but that was soon equalized with another player going for Brazil. With space available and close to their line Carlin Isles was able to slide around the defense for the try. Maka Unufe then added another try to finish off the match.

In the end the Eagles would have liked to have more points to aid their point differential but they could be in trouble anyways. Thanks to France upsetting Australia in Pool B and Japan beating New Zealand in Pool C it's possible that both Pools B and C finish with three teams with two wins. That's possible as France play Spain tomorrow and Japan play Kenya. The U.S. will hope that either Spain or Kenya win or Australia falls to South Africa or New Zealand falls to Great Britain. Under that scenario it would come down to point differential.  Needless to say it's complicated but in essence the U.S. either want to beat Fiji or hope that at least one of the other pools doesn't have three two team wins, putting it down to point differential.

The U.S. play Fiji at 12:30 p.m. et/9:30 a.m. pt tomorrow.

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